Advantages for the Parents
As homeschooling parents, we have the opportunity to be lifelong learners.
Others talk about this being the goal of our educational system, but we are actually forced to do it. That is another reason we decided to homeschool.
We enjoy having the time to research subjects that interest us. When we moved to Idaho, we joined several families that were also new to the area and, using a fourth grade text book as a reference guide, we learned about our new state. Each family read a chapter at home during the week and we got together to go on field trips to the State Capitol and to other points of interest. One family was in charge each month and they presented projects or crafts or games for the rest of us to do together. If the kids had been in school, they would have studied Idaho, and the parents would have missed out. Now we too know about the state where we have lived for the past six years, and this knowledge has increased our satisfaction with life in Idaho.
Currently we are living in Singapore for six months while Art is on a sabbatical doing research at The National University of Singapore. As soon as we found out our sabbatical location, we went to the library and started reading about Southeast Asia. We tried to find out all we could in anticipation of our stay. We started with the public library. Practically everything we need is there. We made maps, colored flags of the countries, and learned about the religions of the many ethnic groups who live in Singapore. We checked out CDs of the Balinese gamelons (ethereal-sounding gongs) and on and on. Again, it was wonderful to have the time to learn by total immersion in the abundant resources that are readily available to everyone with opportunity to use them. It is not a burden for us to homeschool, it is an indulgence.
If the kids were in school, we would need/want to participate in their classrooms. This would have to be on the teacher's schedule, and would be restrictive to our personal routines. We would then have to spend endless hours in evenings and on weekends working on homework and school projects. It would be the same amount of work that we put in now, but we would resent having to work on someone else's schedule, learning about random subjects. We enjoy the freedom homeschooling gives us. We take breaks on Art's college schedule, and we develop broader and deeper areas of interest.
Advantages for the Children
The second most frequent question we get asked is, "What about socialization for the kids? Do they have any friends?" It is hard not to laugh, but we try to be polite and respond, "The kids have more energy and time to participate in lots of 'extracurricular' activities." Our kids relate well to people of all ages, we think, because they are not only with children of their own ages. Sometimes kids with the same skills or the same size are appropriate for an activity, but most of the time they play, work and learn with adults and kids of all ages. They learned to knit from their adopted 89-year-old grandmother next door, and learned puppetry volunteering at the public library. Unless you are in the school system it seems odd to restrict your life to only those your own age. Anyone who has been around groups of children can tell you that kids the same age are not the same in all or any respects. They simply have different skills and talents. They have been interested in different things and those varied interests have led to different development. Trying to regiment learning by age simply ignores and makes problems of the differences in our kids. Homeschooling lets us enjoy our kids the way they are. Internet sites for homeschooling cite the numerous educational and psychological studies supporting the superior social skills of homeschoolers. We don't feel that the socializing in the schools is worth the increased risk of antisocial behaviors and learning disabilities associated with schooling.